Customs Amendment Act exempts security officers from payment of import duties

The Government of Ghana is set to incur a cost of about GHs 802 million in customs duties and taxes for the first three years of the implementation of the Customs Amendment Bill, 2020 which has just been passed into law as a result of Government’s policy to grant tax concessions to automotive companies, security agencies and their officers.

The Bill amended Act 891 to provide incentives for the automotive manufacturers and assemblers registered under the Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Development Programme and provide import exemptions for the security agencies and their officers.

It also aims to prohibit the importation of salvaged motor vehicles and specific motor vehicles over 10 years of age into the country.

Under a new row included in the amended Customs Act, 2020 under the title: Privileged Persons, Organizations and Institutions, Security Services and Security Officers are to be exempted from the payment of import duties and Value Added Taxes.

According to the provision, Officers from the Ghana Arm Forces; the National Security; the Bureau of National Investigation; the Ghana Police Service; the Ghana Prison Service; the Ghana National Fire Service; the Immigration Service; and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority would all benefit from this concession.

To be specific about who qualifies for the exemption, the amendment specifies in paragraph (f) of tariff number 3AF.11 of Part A of the Third Schedule of the Customs Amendment Act 2020 that, “Goods that are imported by an officer of the security agencies returning to the country to resume residence after participating in international peacekeeping or an exchange programme.”

It also explained that “goods” mean goods acquired by an officer of the security agencies for personal use or household use; owned, possessed and used by an officer of the security agencies abroad for at least six months before the return of that officer to the country; accompanying an officer of the security agencies at the time of return of that officer to the country.

It does not include goods imported by that officer for sale or otherwise disposed of within twelve months from the date of importation.

Our checks from Businessweekghana.com revealed that officials of the security agencies are yet to come into terms with the new amendment to the Customs Act, 2020 where concessions have been made for the benefit of their members.

However, an Officer of the Ghana Armed Forces who spoke to us on  anonymity because he did not have the consent of the authorities to speak on the issue indicated that to us that there already existed such protocols to exempt security officers from the payment of import duties and import VAT.

“We already have such protocols where security officers on missions abroad are exempted from paying the necessary duties on imports upon their return. You only have to make a request and it will be granted. I suspect the amendment is just to regularize it,” he said.

The Government, in August 2019, launched the Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Development Programme to promote the manufacture of automobiles for both the domestic market and the West Africa sub-region.

The Programme is part of the efforts of Government to develop some strategic anchor industries that will promote economic development in the country.

Source: Clement Akoloh||businessweekghana.com   

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